The following is a personal blog from one of our Trainee Solicitors, Aisha Rahal, reflecting on her experience working at JfKL:
I have now been a trainee solicitor at Just for Kids Law for an entire year and it has been a rollercoaster of an experience. Coming from no formal experience, this year has been one of the most intense learning experiences for me. I had always known I wanted to work with young people, so a mix of law and young people was exactly what I wanted. Just for Kids was the perfect option for me and I am lucky to be able to do the work that we do.
I started my training with doing 5 months in the Strategic Litigation department. This allowed me to understand the cross-over between crime and public law, and I saw that there were so many decisions made by public bodies, like the police that needed to be challenged and called into question. The fact that there was a clear route to do this was interesting to learn and to actually do. Although the constant legal research got tedious, the reason for it kept me going! I was concerned about doing public law, since in university it wasn’t the most engaging module, but actually practicing it is so different to listening to lectures. The amount of work that lawyers put in to change these public decisions is underestimated.
The best seat for me has been my crime seat, the moment I joined the team I knew straight away this was where I wanted to be. It was constant, chaotic and brilliantly active. I have been able to work with such extraordinary young people who needed someone in their corner. I have done so much learning on my feet, it feels like I went from minimal understanding of the legal procedures, to now knowing (most of the time) what needs to be done. There is something special about becoming good at something you love. We can’t hide the fact that it has been impossibly stressful and painful at times, especially when the cases are so full of harsh realities. These young people have been through so much and somehow manage to keep pushing. This job has provided me with a constant source of inspiration.
The greatest thing I’ve learned over the last year is that the lawyer and client relationship doesn’t need to be distant, or cold. That there is genuine bonding that happens over time, working with these young people and unpacking these difficult areas of their lives. Supporting them at court and spending hours trying to distract or entertain them in the down times has given the role of a lawyer a completely new meaning for me. It isn’t just about representing them and working on the case, it’s also about investing in these young people and wanting each and every one of them to go far in life, to be proud of their resilience and ability to survive.
I am excited for the final year of being a trainee, and even more excited to qualify and be able to spend the rest of my working life with such a resilient client base. I wouldn’t have enjoyed a training contract anywhere else.